CAGE-A-RAMA 2018

CAGE-A-RAMA 2018

Join Matchbox Cineclub for Glasgow’s first CAGE-A-RAMA, celebrating the birthday of international treasure and batshit crazyman Nicolas Cage!

Over two days, we’ll be exploring two facets of the unfathomable diamond that is Cage, starting on Saturday 06/01 with Cage the Fighter and the Holy Trinity of The Rock (1996), Face/Off (1997) and Con Air (1997).

On Sunday, we’ll explore the gentler side of Nicolas, with Cage the Lover: Valley Girl (1983), Moonstruck (1987) and Raising Arizona (1987).

Both days feature tons of exciting Cage-related bonus features, all starting from 12pm.

Keep up-to-date with the Facebook event page here.

£4 (+£1 booking fee) per film
Day pass: £9 (+£1 booking fee)
Weekend pass: £18 (+£1 booking fee)

Tickets from CCA: Book online, 0141 352 4900.

This event is by arrangement with Park Circus

Poster illustration by Vero Navarro.

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Poster: Radioactive Dreams

radioactive-dreams_web

Radioactive Dreams (Albert Pyun, 1985) is our November 2016 screening.

17/11 at CCA Glasgow. Get yr tickets now: bit.ly/2euF5Uy.

PS: Phantom of the Paradise

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Brian de Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise (1974) was our Halloween 2016 screening. Here, journalist Patrick Harley takes a closer look at “the most highly acclaimed horror phantasy of our time.”

There’s a scene in Phantom of the Paradise where the maniacal music mogul known only as Swan makes a point of gifting talented songwriter Winslow Leach (by this point deformed and forced to live in the shadows as the film’s titular Phantom) a contract the size of a phonebook. Flicking several pages into the tome, the Phantom’s one functioning eye chooses an article at random and proceeds to read aloud:

“The party of the first part gives the party of the second part and his associates full power to do with him at their pleasure. To rule, to send, to fetch, or carry him or his, be it either body, soul, flesh, blood or goods” – what does that mean?

The satirical implication that the Phantom is being fooled into quite literally signing his life away later takes on a darker edge, when, distraught with grief, he contemplates suicide, only to discover that the same contract has also voided his right to death.

death-records

Yet death is a recurrent motif in Brian De Palma’s musical horror. Swan’s unscrupulous record label is even named after it: Death Records, its logo a once chirpy songbird, now flat on its back. It’s a journey to which the Phantom could relate; particularly since by the end of the opening act, he’s already been declared deceased. What really perishes in the film’s first thirty minutes though is Winslow’s identity – most of all, his innocence.

winslow

Played by the late William Finley, one early sequence sees Winslow trying to secure a meeting with Swan, confused as to why the producer would have taken hold of his life’s work without crediting or paying him. Having gained access to Swan’s home, he finds out that not only has his music been stolen, but the label is in the midst of vetting potential singers. One such hopeful, and soon to be the object of Winslow’s affection, is the talented Phoenix (Suspiria’s Jessica Harper in her first cinematic role). Whisked into a room and the doors firmly closed behind her, Phoenix immediately screams in terror, swiftly emerging to exclaim that she only came to sing and will not do what Swan is asking of her. Horrified, a clueless Winslow gasps, “That doesn’t sound like an audition!” It’s not long before his naivety finds him crippled, literally destroyed by his belief that he singlehandedly can stop the ever-turning machinery of the record industry.

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But in Phantom of the Paradise, death is just an opportunity to try a new marketing strategy. It is, of course, no coincidence that De Palma enlisted songwriter Paul Williams to play Swan, his compositions for the film also earning him an Oscar nomination. With Williams’ talent and knowledge of the industry lending the film’s songs just the right amount of credibility necessary for pastiche, we see Swan’s house band cycle through multiple incarnations as he strives to find the sound that will unlock access to “The Paradise” (a musical utopia said to be on par with Xanadu). First up, a 1950s nostalgia band named the Juicy Fruits, then the Beach Bums – a surf group who the Phantom, and no doubt De Palma, relishes in blowing up – before finally they are resurrected as the Undeads, a glam-goth act in which every member is styled after the sinister somnambulist from The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. It is during this performance that Swan clocks onto his biggest hit yet when a literal death, live onstage, leaves the audience in a frenzy; they love it, instantly chanting for more.

laugh

For as much as De Palma’s film points a finger at the entertainment industry (record labels no doubt serving as a substitute for the indie director’s own distrust of studio system), it also turns a mirror toward us, appalled at our willingness to be numbed by spectacle, never pausing to think about what goes on behind the curtain. A standout use of split-screening sees one performance shown from two angles: one the upbeat, cheery stage show intended for the crowd, the other the berating going on backstage. As one camera pans to Swan, watching from his private box, the other descends into destruction. Similarly, Williams’ lyrics too are laced with vicious critiques, the anthem of the sleepwalking Undeads calling out for guidance from a figurehead with a Hollywood Smile.

It’s no surprise then that as the film reaches its climax – a chaotic blend of tribal rhythms and fast cuts in which a televised concert turns into a bloodbath – the only screams are cheers. If one onstage death was good, the fans definitely enjoy three. Pulling the camera back, De Palma reveals that, throughout it all, the crowd continues to dance.

Patrick Harley

COMIN’ AT YA! 3D Films Through The Ages

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3D films have been around for 100 years now, but for the first 40, they were more or less a niche concern, mostly shorts and special presentations. The first full-length 3D film was Bwana Devil (Arch Oboler, 1952). One of Bwana Devil‘s early audiences was captured in JR Eyerman’s iconic photograph, for Life magazine, used later on the cover of Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle.

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The 1950s was the Golden Era of 3D, at least the first four or so years, since the craze quickly dissipated. Along with some of the finest examples – Hitchcock’s Dial M For Murder (1954) were less canonical efforts like Robot Monster (Phil Tucker, 1953). Technical difficulties with exhibition and the general expense meant many 3D films were released flat and the format eventually fell out of fashion, although low budget exploitation films kept the ball rolling into the next decade.

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3D was still the province of exploitation for the early 1960s, with notable outliers like The Mask (Julian Roffman, 1961) from the studio system. The late 1960s saw the return of the saviour of 3D, ol’ Arch Oboler himself, with a new system called Space-Vision 3D – which, worth the wait for the name alone. The Bubble (1966) was his big comeback and the system itself provided a cheaper, less tricky technique for producing and exhibiting 3D films.

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The 1970s was super porny for 3D films. The Stewardesses (Allan Silliphant, 1969 – but 70s as a motherfucker) became one of the most profitable films of all time, if not the most. Flesh For Frankenstein (Paul Morissey, 1973) had a good stab at combining horror and porn and Jackie Chan starrer Magnificent Bodyguards (Lo Wei, 1978) was R-rated kung fu fun. On the whole, 1970s 3D films were not so much for kids.

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The 1980s 3D craze began with Comin’ At Ya (Ferdinando Baldi, 1981), a spaghetti western made using a system devised by writer and lead actor Tony Anthony. Comin’ At Ya was shamelessly, some would say ingeniously, designed to exploit the 3D effects, with various items – arrows, handfuls of seeds, dangling babies – bursting off the screen. The same team followed up with Treasure of the Four Crowns (Ferdinando Baldi, 1983), although a second spiritual sequel, Escape From Beyond, was thwarted before it reached production. In the wake of Comin’ At Ya, Dial M For Murder was re-released and the horror genre once again dove face first into 3D. Friday the 13th Part III (Steve Miner, 1982), Jaws 3-D (Joe Alves, 1983) and Amityville 3-D (Richard Fleischer, 1983) all tipped their hats to Baldi and Anthony’s gleeful approach to 3D.

Then, it’s into the 1990s and IMAX and Avatar and fancy Real 3D and diminishing returns once again. But that’s a story for another day and, besides, the posters aren’t as nice to look at.

Sean Welsh


Matchbox Cineclub screen Comin’ At Ya! in anaglyph 3D at The Old Hairdressers, Thursday  19th May, 2016. Details here. Limited tickets available here.